A Federal High Court, Abuja,yesterday, granted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s plea to joined Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State as defendant in a suit seeking his removal.
Leadership Newspaper reported that, Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling, also granted the PDP’s reliefs to joined members of the national and state’s assemblies that defected, alongside Matawalle, from the party to the All Progressives Congress (APC) as defendants.
Justice Ekwo, in addition, granted the prayer to join the Zamfara Deputy Governor, Mahdi Gusau, as second plaintiff in the suit.
He said the determination of an application for joinder is at the discretion of the court.
He said since the application was about the parties sought to be joined, “the court can exercise discretion whether the party ought to be joined can be joined.”
Therefore, he said, trial court has prerogative to exercise discretion for the justice of the case.
“I must examine the essence of the joinder irrespective of the arguments of parties and relevance of persons sought to be joined.
“It is pertinent to examine whether the persons sought to be joined have any thing to defend,” he said.
The judge held that by the averment in support of the application filed by the PDP, the defection issue cannot be effectively determined without joining the parties sought to be joined.
Ekwo, who ordered that the deputy governor be joined as second plaintiff, directed that other parties sought to be joined as eight to 38th defendants be added in the suit.
While ordering the PDP (applicant) to amend its application and served all the defendants, the judge directed the defence, including the parties sought to be joined, to file their counter affidavits within seven days of being served.
No sooner had the judge delivered the ruling than counsel to the PDP, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, informed that despite the restraining order of the court, the defendants had planned to impeach the deputy governor.
Matawalle, alongside the three senators, six members of the House of Representatives and the 24 members of the Zamfara House of Assembly had, on June 29, 2021, defected from the PDP to APC.
While the governor defected to APC, the deputy governor, Gusau, did not.
Ukala told the court that on Feb. 4, he got an information that the defendants had commenced the process of removing Gusau as deputy governor in violation of the court order.
“There is a recent development which we need to inform your lordship,” he said.
The senior lawyer said after receiving the information, he wrote to Ahmed Raji, SAN, and Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on the development.
Besides, he said he also wrote a letter to the chief judge of the state and the speaker of the House of Assembly, both of who were defendants in the suit.
“On February 7, the speaker of the House of Assembly, who is also the 5th defendant, issued a notice of impeachment and this has been served on the deputy governor,” he said.
Ukala said though he would have asked Raji and Ozekhome why their clients would not respect the court order if they were in court, “but they are not here today.”
He reminded that a motion on notice had been filed with an affidavit of urgency to the regard.
Ukala, who prayed the court for a short adjournment to take the motion, urged the court to make an order stopping the defendants from carrying out their plan.